LAS VEGAS - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has opened its most energy efficient U.S. store to date in Las Vegas - the HE.5 prototype - designed to use up to 45 percent less energy than the baseline Supercenter. Building upon information learned from previous high-efficiency stores Wal-Mart opened in 2007 and 2008, the HE.5 begins a new series of prototypes designed for specific climates. This facility is Western climate-specific, meaning the efficiency gains are made possible by innovations designed for the conditions of the region.

“Wal-Mart is piloting new technologies, driving innovation and leveraging advances in building design to better align our stores with the communities we serve,” said Charles Zimmerman, Wal-Mart vice president of prototype and new format development. “We are committed to openly sharing our learnings with the retail industry and the world because being more energy efficient is something everyone can benefit from.”

The HE.5 store features advancements in heating, cooling, refrigeration, and lighting to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the store takes the integrated water-source format system that Wal-Mart piloted in its successful high-efficiency stores and adapts it to the local climate by adding evaporative cooling and radiant flooring technologies. The new HE.5 system reduces the temperature of water naturally by pumping it through roof-mounted cooling towers then runs the cold water underneath the retail floor to cool the shopping area. Together, the systems provide a comfortable shopping environment while using less energy.

“The Western Cooling Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis, applauds Wal-Mart’s cooling system design for the new Las Vegas store,” said Richard Bourne, WCEC associate director. “We believe this is the most efficient cooling system implemented in a major retail facility. This project recognizes the very significant opportunity to integrate advanced natural cooling features in dry climates, thereby reducing the need to build new peak power generating plants.”

Given the climate-specific nature of the HE.5 store, this prototype will only be built in regions where its innovations will provide the greatest benefit. According to Wal-Mart, its high-efficiency series of HE.1, HE.2, and HE.5 stores build upon many years of research, experiments, partnerships, and pilots, and will ultimately help the company reach its goal to design and open a viable store prototype that is 25-30 percent more energy efficient by 2009.

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Publication date:03/24/2008